Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, and make up about 1.3% of the total population of the United States. They enjoy all the benefits of citizenship, save one: Puerto Ricans who live in Puerto Rico cannot vote for the U.S. President in the general elections (those who live in the United States are allowed to vote). Republican presidential pre-candidate Rick Santorum urged them to speak English in order to be part of the Union. Probably the threat of Santorum will spark the independent movement.
The U.S. put travel guides to Puerto Rico in their "International Travel" section rather than "Domestic Travel," where it belongs. On the other hand, Puerto Rico is technically part of the United States.
Puerto Rico is not a state, but rather a Commonwealth of the United States. This status provides local autonomy to the island and allows Puerto Rico to publicly display its flag. However, the government of Puerto Rico, while ostensibly a local responsibility, falls ultimately on the U.S. Congress. The elected governor of Puerto Rico occupies the highest public office on the island.
The vast majority of Puerto Ricans want to keep the status quo and remain a Commonwealth.
A less popular but vocal camp is in favor of becoming a U.S. state. Their reasons center on the right to vote and increased funding from Washington, DC.
An increasingly smaller minority want independence for Puerto Rico, arguing that national pride and complete autonomy will be worth the growing pains of a new nation that is not supported by Federal aid.
Mitt Romney and his rival Rick Santorum have supported the conservative push to formalize English as the official language across the country. On Puerto Rico, an American territory that will vote on its political status, including statehood, on Nov. 6, most residents speak Spanish as their primary language.
Santorum made headlines earlier in the week after saying that Puerto Rico would have to adopt English as its main language to attain statehood, a dominant political issue here.
"I have no doubt that one of the requirements that will be put forth to Congress is a requirement that English would be universal here on the island," Santorum told a local newspaper. "That doesn't mean that people can't speak Spanish in their homes, or in their business, or on the street, but that everyone would have a proficiency in English."
In a January presidential debate, Romney suggested that English should be the official language for all states.
Puerto Rico is set to hold its GOP presidential primary on Sunday. While there are 20 delegates at stake, Republicans want to make inroads with Hispanic voters, a growing voting bloc across the country, but are complicating their efforts with such talk.
On the Other Side
Kansas State guard Angel Rodriguez says he has accepted Southern Mississippi's apology over remarks made by its band and has moved on.
The freshman says Friday he did hear the chants of "Where's your green card?" during the Wildcats' 70-64 second-round victory in the NCAA tournament Thursday and that the school's athletic director and "personnel from their school" came to the team hotel to apologize.
Rodriguez said he accepted the apology because "there's ignorant people and I know that's not how they want to represent their university."
Rodriguez added a civics lesson, saying he doesn't pay attention to that "nonsense, especially because Puerto Rico is a commonwealth, so we don't need no type of papers."
USM president Martha Saunders issued an apology Thursday in a statement.